It has been awhile since I’ve written anything here, specifically 1043 days. I happened to be in the Chestnut Hill area and reminiscing about my time at Boston College and thought back to this blog. I was shocked to see that people still visit it, and my study guides still regularly get downloaded. I hope some of my insights into studying helped at least one person out there, and hopefully people looking into going to BC found some useful information here.
I am now less than one year away from graduating medical school, and I can say that BC prepared me well. The biggest hurdle of medical school is passing Step 1, and having a good work ethic is key to doing well on the exam. I felt the difficulty of the classes at BC, and the work required to succeed instilled a very strong work ethic. Sure you will study more than you ever have at medical school, but it is worth it. I went from doing very little homework on weekends at BC to using my weekends in medical school to catch up in studying, often putting in 8-10 hours of work throughout the day. If I treated college like a 9-5 job, medical school was an 8-6 job 7 days a week. But I felt well prepared, and other students from BC felt the same way. I still keep in touch with at least 10 of my friends who are at medical school and all of them are succeeding. My score on Step 1 was a full standard deviation above average, and I felt a lot of that was due to the fantastic base of knowledge my biology degree from BC gave me.
That being said, one thing I will say is medical school is expensive. I will be leaving school next year with 250k of debt from medical school alone, and that is on the low side due to a lower cost of living and a tuition that is less than BC’s. I will be the first to admit I had family contributions helping me pay for BC, and if I had 100-200k more of debt from undergrad on top of my medical school loans it would be a lot scarier. Some people will argue that choosing a community college for two years or a state school for all four years is the way to go. I would argue against community college just because there is an unfortunate stigma that the classes are easy. For some reason, state schools also have a stigma against them, but I know plenty of people who got into medical school from a state school. I am not trying to discourage anyone from attending a costly private school, but I am mentioning it because I know classmates who have 400-500k of debt between undergrad and medical school, and that continues to accumulate interest and can seem insurmountable at times.
Another thing I will suggest to anyone reading is to follow your passion. I have tried to do things in life not because it looks good on a resume, but because I enjoy doing them. Working in EMS was something I genuinely enjoyed, and now I find myself going into Emergency Medicine. It is insane to look back and realize that meeting an EMT on my floor freshman year (who encouraged me to take the class) changed the course of my life. Since entering medical school, I have also pursued things because I was interested in them. One thing that came out of nowhere was writing a book based on an online writing prompt! Of course I had to write it under a pen name to separate my professional and personal lives, but it was something that took up a lot of my free time during my first year of medical school. The book is proof that medical school, while difficult, does not consume your entire life if you don’t let it.
(Shameless self-plug: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1730797105)
I know it’s easy to say “just get a 3.7 GPA, a 510 (or preferably higher) on the MCAT, and take part in a couple of experiences related to healthcare” but that is really what it takes these days to get into medical school. It seems daunting when you enter as a freshman because it is. To ask an immature (no offense, I was once there) 18 year old who is away from home for an extended period of time for the first time in his or her life to succeed immediately is impossible to predict. Try to avoid putting pressure on yourself at the beginning of college. Too many times I see people post about how their dreams of medical school are over because they got a 3.0 their first semester. Do not give up! Assess what was wrong, whether it was not studying far enough in advance, partying too much, taking too many challenging courses at one time, or simply just being homesick, look for ways to correct the issues. I look back now on college and realize that if I studied for classes like I do in medical school now, a 4.0 would have been easy and the MCAT would have been a cinch. Study habits are everything, but college is also supposed to be enjoyed. Take advantage of the free time you will never have again to go to the gym, explore Boston, and have a good time with friends!
Hopefully this makes some sort of sense, if it’s too long here are the main points:
- BC prepares you well for medical school
- BC is expensive, medical school is also expensive
- Read my book if you are bored (it has nothing to do with medical school but does have some science in it)
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but also don’t have too much fun. College is a time to be enjoyed, but at the end of the day you are going there to set yourself up for a good career.
I shall post again in another 1043 days, and it’s slightly depressing that I still won’t have received a single attending paycheck by then.